Dallas Criminal Lawyer Discusses – Common Questions About Probation in Texas
When you commit a crime in Texas, you may be ordered to serve probation. To avoid confusion, it’s important to acknowledge that in Texas, probation is also referred to as community supervision. Probation can seem like a scary thing when you don’t know anything about what to expect. It’s normal to have a lot of questions about what this means for your case and your future. Getting some basic information about probation can help you feel more comfortable about your case.
However, because every case is different, it’s very important to consult with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer. Your criminal defense lawyer may even be able to work with the prosecutor or the court to arrange the conditions of your probation.
What Does It Mean to Be Placed on Probation?
On a very basic level, probation means that you are allowed to remain out of jail and part of the community rather than incarcerated in a jail or prison. If you’re on probation, you are not totally free like an ordinary citizen. It’s important to note that there is not a one-size-fits-all probation. Rather, probation conditions can vary, so it’s extremely important to understand the requirements in your case. For example, you may be required to serve a certain amount of time in jail before you are eligible for probation. In some cases, individuals placed on probation must undergo routine drug or alcohol screenings. Other individuals may be required to make periodic reports with a probation officer, or to see a mental health counselor.
While many types of probation require the person to serve jail time before they are released on probation, in some cases the court will order an individual to serve probation in lieu of a jail sentence. This gives the person an opportunity to continue most aspects of their everyday life, including taking care of their children and keeping a job. However, any violation of probation could result in the court revoking the terms of the probation and ordering the person to serve time in jail instead.
Does Probation Cost Money?
Probation is not free. In Texas, individuals sentenced to probation or community supervision must pay a monthly fee. For a drunk driving conviction, for example, the monthly fee for probation can range between $60 and $100. Additionally, probation for this type of offense and others can actually last longer than a jail sentence. Whereas a person might spend anywhere between three days and six months in jail for a drunk driving conviction, the probation for this type of offense could last up to two years.
As The Texas Tribune reports, the fees and time commitment associated with probation have prompted some people to opt for jail time rather than serving probation. Others choose to forego probation because they don’t want to submit to drug or alcohol counseling, treatment, or testing.
Before you make the decision to turn down probation in favor of jail time, however, it’s critical to speak with your criminal defense lawyer about what this could mean for your case and your future. If you must spend weeks or months in jail, you could jeopardize your employment or your ability to retain custody of your children. This is a big decision and it’s one you should never make lightly.
In Texas, first-time offenders may also be eligible to receive a deferred adjudication. In a deferred adjudication, the court agrees to temporarily delay making a final determination of guilt as long as the person agrees to comply with all the terms of probation. Assuming the person serves out the probationary period with no problems, the court can later choose to dismiss the charges. The fact that the person was charged with a crime will still be part of the public record. Prospective employers would be able to see, for example, that a person who received deferred adjudication on a robbery case was charged with a robbery and pleaded guilty to it. Several years after that person has completed community supervision they will be able to seek a “nondisclosure” order. Anyone who receives the opportunity for a deferred adjudication should take extra care to fully understand the terms and requirements of their probation, as any violation could cause the court to revoke parole and enter the conviction on the person’s criminal record.
Will I Have a Probation Officer?
If you must serve probation or community supervision in Texas, you will also have a probation officer. A probation officer is there to oversee an individual’s probation, but they can also be a valuable resource when it comes to helping the person get past their criminal offense and focus on getting their life back on track. Your probation officer can serve a variety of roles, including writing reports to the court, helping you connect with needed services, offering you support while completing probation, and making recommendations to the court regarding your case.
It’s generally in your best interest to have a good working relationship with your probation officer. It’s also best to be open and honest with your probation officer. Probation is typically an opportunity to stay out of jail, so it’s important to make sure you comply with the terms that your probation officer requests. If you have questions or concerns about probation, speak to a knowledgeable Dallas criminal defense lawyer about your case.
Broden & Mickelsen, LLP
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.